Baby A’s sleep training took 3 weeks, he was never left to cry alone, we tweaked his original plan to make it work better for his temperament.
There were ups and downs, and things started to plateau we had to change tact again.
- Allergies to consider
- Bottles to drop
- Moving from a co-sleeping situation to an independent sleep situation meant this was never going to be easy!
Mum’s commitment to the changes and her perseverance through her own black cloud and sleep deprivation was for me as her consultant inspirational. As a mother she moved me to tears reading her emails!
I hope you enjoy reading her answers here and it gives you an idea of the journey she has been on to achieve better sleep.
Sleep = a biological necessity not a luxury!
1. Tell me about your boy’s sleep issues before you got our help?
My beautiful little boy had problems from 3-4 weeks of age with acid reflux, dreadful colic and tongue tie feeding issues.
Having to keep him upright after feeds and with him screaming in so much pain especially when lying down meant he slept very little if at all during the day until 10.5 months when he was moved to a very restricted diet and prescription formula.
We finally started getting a reasonable day sleep provided he was fed to sleep and cuddled upright for a good 20 minutes. Once he started outgrowing his reflux medication around 4-5 months and introduction of solids night time sleep started to deteriorate and as time went on I started surviving on 1-3 hours broken sleep a night when his reflux medication was changed.
He was in pain with reflux and he was in pain with dreadful gas that would finally pass in the early morning with ear piercing screams then my little boy would literally flop asleep instantly and rest until his first feed of the day which started the cycle all over again.
The reactions came out in the daytime via lots of awful nappies, squealing, tantrums and broken naps. He, of course, outgrew feeding to sleep so it changed to bouncing, rocking, shhshhhhshh, whatever worked. Get that rhythm wrong when he was almost asleep and you’d start all over again.
It slowly got harder and harder to transfer him to his cot asleep and as a toddler I worked hard to teach him his cot was safe and we finally got to a point where I could rub his back and head to get him to sleep when he was in his cot.
For him his cot equaled pain and therefore fear. It could take up to 1.5-2 hours in the evenings and during the night was worse.
I became dangerously exhausted and discovered it is physically possible to fall asleep standing up holding a baby… a door handle in the shoulder will thankfully wake you.
By the time we discovered he was reacting to both available reflux medications and had possible food intolerances the damage was done.
From a newborn my precious little boy had no chance to learn to self settle. With his problems he was unintentionally taught to feed to sleep or go to sleep on me.
He was taught to be rocked and bounced to sleep he was taught to be soothed to sleep by me. He was taught he needed me to sleep and he needed me to be safe and comforted.
It wasn’t his fault and it wasn’t mine. The line between habit and pain became blurred so I continued to do what I had to do for him to get some sleep and for me to survive and do what I could to minimise his distress and screaming.
2. What was your biggest challenge prior to getting any help with Baby A’s sleep?
Surviving day to day and surviving each night – staying sane. Seriously, I was pretty much just existing and trying to get to tomorrow. So much sleep debt was really taking a toll on both of us.
I was emotionally and physically shattered with chronic sleep deprivation and my little guy was in a constant state of over tiredness making him angry and frustrated.
I’m also no good at asking for help. As a new mum you kind of feel like you should be able to do it all yourself and when you can’t its easy to get trapped in the cycle of feeling like a failure or listening to bad advice.
3. What was the goal while working with Baby Sleep Consultant?
SLEEP! For everyone.
And the better my little guy could sleep the better chance we’d have at gaining a good picture of what is habit waking and what is sore tummy from a food reaction as we head back down the path of reintroducing foods in the hope to broaden his very restricted diet.
With so much waking and relying on me to sleep it was becoming difficult to know what was what.
4. Tell us honestly did you have any apprehensions going in?
Of course I did.
I was in survival mode doing what I could to limit any tears or tantrums for my own emotional health.
For me screaming = flashbacks to long days and nights dealing with my little boy being in so much pain from acid reflux, colic, reactions to reflux medication (although we didn’t know that’s what was happening at the time), food reactions. His little tummy was a mess and my heart was shattered into a thousand tiny little pieces unable to help him or fix him.
Anything during the night that resembled him being distressed was going to equal an emotional roller coaster reliving those times and wanting to make everything right for him.
5. What was the biggest hurdle to overcome in the process of teaching baby A to sleep?
I think #4 covers it pretty well really. And the emotional and physical connection we both had.
18 months feeding then holding/rocking/bouncing, then rubbing his back and head until he was asleep.
18 months is a long time to have such an intense physical and emotional reliance for both of us.
I thought it was just him that needed it but through this process I realised how much helping him and seeing him go to sleep was for my benefit as well. I’d lived with such a fear of SIDS and had seen him in so much pain night after night with his problems that I needed to see him go to sleep, I needed to know he wasn’t sad, that he was comforted and had gone to sleep as happy as he could. But now, he goes to sleep happier, calmer and more secure than when I was helping him (or pretty much doing it for him).
6. Tell us about the emotional roller coaster of sleep training? (It is for everyone!)
You know what, I thought it would be worse.
I had times where I wanted to give up but a phone call followed soon after my “I’ve decided to pull the pin” email and we were back on track.
Knowing about the extinction burst saved me from picking him up and comforting him to sleep.
From that point forward everything just kept getting easier. Gradual withdrawal was perfect for us.
Dealing with PTSD and having flashbacks on our one really hard night I thought I’d have to stop so I didn’t get unwell but instead wonderful Emma tweaked the final steps so it was even gentler (if that’s possible).
Even the worst night wasn’t as hard or as enduring as a normal night pre working with Emma. It was more the knowing that I wasn’t physically helping him that was my emotional downfall and the hardest to battle.
7. How does it feel now to have accomplished such a great change on your own?
Oh my goodness. How do you put something like this into words.
My husband and I can spend evenings together, there’s laughter coming from my heart and mouth again, there’s a giggly little boy that is brimming with life and confidence.
A little boy that is asking for bed, a little boy that wakes from his nap and chooses to lie in his cot for a bit longer to pretend he is sleeping or help his ‘monkey’ get into the sleeping bag or under the blankets.
A little boy that is proud to be in bed and proud when he sleeps for his whole nap or the whole night.
There’s a little boy who tried to pull blankets over himself and his monkey for ‘their’ nap the other day. A little boy that is role playing sleep. But the question is how does it feel… PROUD.
In simple words: Baby Sleep Consultants, you’re awesome.. but me and the other mums/dads that are on this side of sleep issues… we are SUPER AWESOME!!!
I did this, I got us both here.
I didn’t think I could, I didn’t think I would.
I KNEW I would cave in (I didn’t).
I feel proud, I feel so proud of myself and my little boy.
I feel stronger, I feel hopeful, I feel I am a much better mother, and a better teacher to my little boy.
The whole process and seeing the difference in my little guy’s whole world has given me more confidence as a mother.
It has given me a security in my abilities as a parent to be loving and kind, strong and resilient, gentle and firm, to love enough to teach my little guy its ok to do some things on his own safely and securely.
And its given me the confidence to let him be a little boy, explore, live, knowing I can and will keep him safe even though I’m not holding on so tight anymore. It has given me the confidence to believe in myself as a mother.
8. Any changes in baby A? I think people often think they will damage their child.
I thought I was going to damage him, I really did.
Not holding him and physically helping him which is all he had known for 18 months saw me agonizing for a long time over whether to start down this path. I thought he would hate me, I thought he would feel deserted, abandoned, you name it I thought it.
But at that point I never comprehended his dependence on me for sleep and night time security coupled with sleep deprivation was crossing over to other areas of his life.
The more he learned to self settle and depend on me less throughout the night his independence, security and self assurance started to overflow through his little heart and became evident in his new passion for life and daily activities. This was such a gentle method that was so perfectly tailored for us that he just responded and responded.
Teachers and mums at Playcentre and Headstart are openly commenting on the changes.
A once shy, clingy, tearful little boy who was desperate to leave classes at Headstart is now the first in the door, up on his feet dancing, off exploring and squealing with delight.
He’s a noisy kid in class now and brings lots of smiles and giggles in his direction.
He’s starting to interact and join in with other toddlers now. Previously he was scared and would want to leave as soon as another got too close to him. Seeing such a huge change when he was joining in the end session of bursting bubbles and squealing with delight saw me turn into a a teary eyed, overwhelmed and overjoyed mum recently.
Cheeky cheeky cheeky monkey, brimming with life, with confidence. Our GP is just thrilled with the changes.
And now, we can venture with confidence down the road of extending his restricted diet knowing that we will have a clear, true picture of what is affecting his tummy during the night and what is my monkey being my precious little monkey.
I didn’t damage him. I helped him move into a new phase of a life filled with joy, fun and a renewed energy.
9. Best piece of advice for someone thinking of asking for help?
DO NOT WAIT.
Even if you think you are not ready, please please please, ask for help.
You don’t need to make an immediate decision but find out what help and support is available before you decide you don’t want or need help.
Being a mother is the most wonderful and rewarding experience, but I have learned it can also bring with it the hardest, loneliest and most emotionally and physically trying times.
It doesn’t have to continue to be that way, there is help. You yourself are precious and you yourself deserve whatever help is available for you and your little one(s).
If I can achieve what we have with PND and PTSD then please know there is hope, there is help and things really do not have to be as difficult as they are. Everyone has an opinion but choose which ones you lean on with care. Emma from Baby Sleep Consultants truly changed our lives.
Our program was tailored with such love and care, her help, knowledge and support made the journey easier than the nights we were enduring prior to starting. Don’t hesitate to find out what they can do for you.
Our Baby Sleep Program helps tired parents TO DEVELOP HEALTHY SLEEP HABITS BY FOCUSING ON NAPS, SETTLING AND NIGHT SLEEP.
- Empowered: Feel empowered as a Mum as you learn to understand your growing baby's needs and cues.
- Simple effective settling: Gentle, proven self settling, evidence based techniques.
- Content happy baby and parents: Better sleep creates content babies & happy parents.
- Freedom: Predictable routines and longer nights creates freedom. Solve your sleep problems for more freedom.
- Work with your babies circadian rhythm: Work with your babies biological clock for faster easier results.
- Awesome naps & nights: You'll create consistent naps and nights with our support.
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